You probably don’t need me to convince you that you should memorize Scripture. You know you should do it. Just like you know that you should work out and eat healthy and go to bed on time. Maybe one of your New Year’s goals for 2022 is to memorize Scripture. “This is the year!” you’ve said. Great. I’m going to help equip you to make that goal a reality. Or perhaps Scripture memory hasn’t really been on your radar. No problem. I’m going to put it there, and then help you make it happen.
Before we dive in, I should say up-front that I won’t be giving you how-to tips for memorizing. I could do that, I suppose. But you’d probably look at my tips and think, “Ha! That may work for her, but it would never work for me. Now what?” Instead, I’m going to give you some strategies to employ that will help you make memorizing happen. They’re not magical fairy dust that will automatically transfer verses into your head, but if you practice these strategies, I’m convinced that your desire to memorize Scripture will come to fruition.
Strategy #1: Set a Goal
You’ve probably heard the adage, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” Setting the goal to “memorize more Scripture” is admirable, but not particularly likely to succeed. It’s too fuzzy. Goals that get achieved are specific and measurable. To help “de-fuzz” your goal, think through these questions:
- How many verses do you want to memorize each week? Each month? This year?
- How will you choose which verses you’ll memorize?
- Will you memorize a specific passage(s) or verses related to a topic?
- Which specific passage or topic will you memorize?
It’s a good idea to start small, but not too small. Set an achievable goal: perhaps one chapter of one book by March 1. You could start with a Psalm or perhaps a well-known chapter like Hebrews 11 or Romans 8. Challenge yourself to do a little more than feels comfortable, but not something that is unattainable. If you get a couple months in and realize that your goal is not achievable, retool it. But don’t abandon it altogether.
To ensure that you don’t abort your mission, tell another person about it. We’ll talk accountability in more detail later on, but for now just choose a person whom you can tell what you plan to memorize. Then tell that friend if you change your mind. Just this one simple step will make your goal more concrete and set the bar of accountability higher in your mind.
Finally, give yourself a reward for meeting a goal. When you get that first chapter done, celebrate a little bit. Of course, a latte or a cupcake shouldn’t be the reason that we memorize Scripture (and if that’s your only motivation, you’ll never actually do it), but give yourself permission to acknowledge your accomplishment. What better reason to celebrate?
Strategy #2: Use Time Already Built into Your Schedule
Time is probably the single biggest hindrance to all spiritual disciplines. The enemy loves to feed us the lie that we just don’t have time, and if God really meant for us to pray, read the Bible, or memorize Scripture, He surely would have given us a few more minutes in our day. While I recognize that some seasons of life have more free time than others, no matter what your current season, you probably do have some free time already built into your day.
Do you go to work each day? Use the time doing hair or putting on makeup to work on your verses. You could have your Bible open on the sink or print out the passage you’re working on from BibleGateway.com (or another website); or you could write the verses out on 3x5 cards. The time is already there, just waiting to be redeemed.
Stay home with the kiddos? Use time folding laundry, running on the treadmill, or doing dishes to work on your verses.
Do you have to wait in a pick-up line at school for your older children? Use that time to review verses or learn some new ones—even if you have to say them to younger children in the car with you.
Use the time you’re already spending in the Word to work on Bible memory. Memorizing is a great way to meditate on what you’re learning. In my experience, I best understand the passages that I’ve hidden in my heart.
The downtime to incorporate Scripture memory is probably already in your daily routine. You just have to find it and use it in a profitable way.
Strategy #3: Replace Garbage Time
If you can’t find downtime in your daily schedule as it exists right now, you may need to replace something taking up your time. If you make the excuse that you don’t have time for Bible memory, let me challenge you to think about the time you spend on social media or streaming TV.
To help redeem the time in your day, try putting in a couple of ground-rules for yourself:
- No social media until I’ve done my memory work.
- No TV until I’ve reviewed the passage that I’m working on.
You may need to take further steps to help you in this area, such as deleting an app from your phone/tablet and accessing that site only via computer. Or use a setting on your phone that locks it at a certain time at night until a certain time in the morning.
Consider your routine. When do you habitually check your social media feeds? Take just 5-10 minutes of that time to devote to Scripture memory. (Chances are, you’ll still have time left over for the phone.)
The time is there, but perhaps some lesser habits need to go.
Strategy #4: Use Technology
This may seem like a contradiction to Strategy #3, but I promise it isn’t. Instead of using your phone for Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, use it to help you meet your memory goal. I favor a program called the Bible Memory App. This app allows you to memorize from the version of your choice and will help you learn, memorize, and master a verse by typing the first letter of each word, first with all the words there, then with half of them there, and finally without any words on the screen. It will also prompt you to review verses already mastered. I have found this to be very helpful in redeeming time when I mindlessly pick up my phone in a moment of boredom.
Maybe you’re an auditory learner. Use an audio Bible to help you memorize. A great tool for this is the Dwell App. While there is a fee associated with this one, it’s well worth the money. You can choose from a variety of translations, set up a playlist with exactly what you want to hear, and even put it in “Dwell Mode,” to repeat a verse or chapter to help you memorize it. The readers are talented and very non-robotic; and you can choose from several options of background music.
If you don’t like technology, old-fashioned index cards are still a great tool! Find what works for you, and use it.
Strategy #5: Find an Accountability Partner or Group
I’ve recently learned the joy of a Bible memory accountability group. We memorized the book of Titus together, and each week we took turns saying the assigned portion out loud. While it was a bit humbling at times as I bumbled my way through the passage of the week, knowing that I had accountability helped me to take the assignment seriously and get it done.
Do you have a friend or two or three who would be willing to dive into Bible memory with you? You could memorize the same passage together, or not. You could go at the same pace, or not. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re holding one another accountable on a regular basis.
To be clear, I am suggesting that you actually say the verses out loud to one another. That may be downright terrifying at first, but it’s worth it, I promise. A group like this will also foster some great conversations as you talk over what you’ve learned.
Strategy #6: Stop Making Excuses and Make It Happen.
That great philosopher Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Of course it can be done. Anything can be done. But it’s only done if it’s done!” Of course, you can memorize Scripture. Anyone can do it. But it’s only done if it’s done. You will only hide God’s Word in your heart and delight in His Word through Scripture memory if you stop making excuses and make it happen. We could talk tips and hacks all day, but in the end, you’ve got a decision to make. Will you memorize Scripture this year or not?
Let 2022 be the year that you embrace Scripture memory and find out the joy that comes with letting the Word of God dwell in you richly.